Work: Overture-Suite for Recorder, Strings and Basso Continuo in A minor, TV 55 no a 2
About This Work
Even in a quite cosmopolitan body of work, Georg Philipp Telemann's Suite for flute and strings in A minor (which can also be played on the recorder) stands out for its prolific sampling of the various musics known to the composer. It contains a pair
of French minuets, two passepieds from Brittany, a Polish polonaise, and an "Air à l'italienne." For good measure, Telemann throws in two quasi-illustrative movements, describing "Les plaisirs" and a "Réjouissance," respectively. All that was left was to write an overture to bookend the suite, and Telemann had another work to enhance his pan-European reputation for inventive use of the orchestra, consummate technical skill, and felicitous imagination. That overture, which begins and closes the suite, is in the French style; its opening slow section features the long-short snap rhythm prominently and has a processional feel about it due partly to the unison playing of flute and strings for most of its length. The tempo soon rushes forward with a new theme, introduced in a fugato in the strings; the flute then elaborates upon this theme, supported by a bare violin line or by the continuo. The overture closes with the customary altered and abbreviated repeat of the slow section.
The movements that follow explore different rhythms, affects, and relationships between flute and orchestra, all with great success. Some take the traditional model of introducing a theme in the strings and letting the flute make virtuoso fireworks with it -- for example "Les plaisirs," the two minuets, and the polonaise. The polonaise, in particular, is notable for the way the flute picks up the stately melody given by the strings and whirls like a dervish around the it, plays tense, quick repeated notes, and finally settles into dramatic cascades. The melody may be the same, but the feeling is as different as can be. Other movements let the flute introduce new material, as in the Passepied I & II and the Air à l'italienne; the latter has the flute both elaborating on a melancholy, sighing melody and inserting a section of exuberant piping before the altered repeat of the first section. And the "Réjouissance" features the flute in dialogue, as both soloist and orchestra race around in visceral rushes of sixteenth notes trying to capture their mutual joy. This diversity of styles and means fits well the template of a suite, but the unifying intelligence behind all of them is definitely that of Telemann.
-- Andrew Lindemann Malone
Select a specific Conductor, Ensemble or Label or browse recordings by Formats & Featured below